I’m more of a people person than an animal person. In fact, I struggle with being a pet owner because a) there’s a lot of responsibility to owning pets and b) pets eventually die, and I hate death and grief. However, being a mom to boys means we have pets, and since moving into our own house back in 2004, we’ve been owners of a hamster named Mango, a gecko named Lima Bean, and a one-eyed English bulldog named Abi. Of the three, Mango is the only one no longer with us, although there was a week back in December 2006 when I thought Lima Bean was a goner for sure.
originally posted to the JaneBlog on January 3, 2007
Yes, I was the one that bought the Gecko for my son Ty a number of months ago because he 1) begged and pleaded, and 2) he used his own money. Except for the constant shopping for crickets, taking care of a Gecko has been relatively easy. The waxworms do splendidly in the fridge, even if it is creepy digging the little worms out of their sawdust nest with a tiny spoon. But no matter. We have Gecko, and he must eat, and no Gecko can live on live crickets alone.
I’ve even developed a soft spot for the Gecko (his name since no one gave him a name, although a few were thrown around the first day, names that failed to stick, names that included Lima-for Lima Bean, Lizard, and Geico) and he comes out to see me when he hears my voice as I represent food and water, as well as sunlight and warmth. My son Ty cherished Gecko just long enough for me to feel responsible for its little leopard self, thus, the crisis during the power outage.
Gecko needs heat and warmth. Gecko needs his heated tray and his sun lamp and his desert like conditions, even in the midst of our Seattle winter. When we lost power house stayed warm enough at first that Gecko was merely cold, and considering hibernating. But when the outside temp dropped to the 20’s and the house read mid thirties, Gecko was chilly. Very, very chilly. So chilly lizards books said Gecko would um, hibernate forever. Go to the great Lizard in the sky. And so on.
I couldn’t have it. No lizard will perish on my watch. And so one night I stayed up til midnight replacing votive candles around the front of Gecko’s glass cage and then wrapping the back and sides in a quilt. That actually got the heat up to 55 degrees but that wasn’t enough. And then I hit upon an absolutely brilliant plan and someday I will write a book about this, thinking title would be Saving Private Gecko, (doesn’t that just give you goosebumps?!>).
But to save Private Gecko, I had to be brave and focused and strong. And I was. I was. I wouldn’t let my little green buddy down.
In my bathroom I discovered some instant heat strips that I use on my back when it gives me trouble. You just take the strips out of the foil pouches and stick them on your skin and you’ve got heat for 8 hours. Within ten minutes Gecko’s glass house had 4 heating strips on the sides. The temperature went up. A little.
Gecko kept staring at me from beneath his log, his small sad smile telling me it was okay, he understood. I’d done my best. I had to save myself now. I had to go to bed and get warm.
I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t leave him. True, I was shivering. Upstairs felt like a ice chamber but women–real women–don’t leave reptilean pets behind. Gecko needed more warmth. Gecko needed…candles? Candle votive in cage? Hmm, fried Gecko very unappealing, might scar children further. No, can’t put open flame next to lizard. Bad.
BUT. Something warm in cage, something warm for Gecko to lay on since his sand covered heated tray was now icy cold.
Then it hit me. A bolt of…thought.
The kind the kids use when they ski.
With candle in hand I headed to garage, raided the ski duffle bag (no need to tell you I was freezing like mad, because this story isn’t about me, it’s about my little buddy) and found one packet, one cellophane wrapped hand warmer from last year’s trip to Banff.
Picture Mary-Catherine Gallagher from Saturday Night Live doing her Superstar move. Superstar.
I felt like a Superstar as I opened the plastic and foil wrapped warmer, then squished it into warmth and placed it in the most natural looking bright orange sand covering Gecko’s tray.
Gecko crept out from his log and touched the new little warm bed with a frozen foot, looked at me, tears in his eyes.
It’s okay, little buddy. It’s okay. It’s yours and it’s warm and no one is going to take it away from you.
Gecko slowly climbed on the warmer and lay with his stomach on the bump and he finally slept.
The next morning he was still there, ALIVE. And yes, he was still curled on the warmer, although it wasn’t quite as warm but it’d done it’s job. Thank you warmer. Thank you, Jane’s good idea.
Not to pat myself too much on the back but for one night I was brilliance personified. I knew what it meant to be a team player. And when I’m someday running with the Big Lizard in the sky, they will talk about me in hushed tones in Geckoland, (located about 6 miles from Legoland, I believe) and they will say, ‘No lizard died on her watch.’
No ma’am. No lizard will die on my watch.
I’m a good woman.
Even if I terrify men.
We’ve had our gecko several years now and I’ve grown fond of him but every time Surfer Ty promises to buy another gecko for my boys I nearly flip my lid. No more geckos, no more rodents, no birds, cats, fish, no more dogs. We have a new baby. Isn’t that enough?
How about you? Is there a kind of animal you just won’t have in your house? (I draw the line at snakes. I don’t do snakes, wont do snakes, ever.) Tell me where you draw the line. What could you handle, and what would push you over the edge?